Dystopian novels like ‘The Hunger Games‘ have been taking the globe by storm. It seems young adult interests have transitioned from sparkly vampires to oppressive governments. Blogger Sam Cushion has done an analysis on why he feels these dystopian stories have become such popular topics. You can watch the video of him above, or a transcript of his thoughts below.
These books deal with war and rebellion so naturally there will be a degree of violence. But we live in a violent society and are constantly exposed to different forms of violence through entertainment and different media. What good can come from reading about it as well? In the case of The Hunger Games it asks the question, How numb to the reality of violence have we become? Take for instance the scene in Matched where they go to a show and laugh at the scenes of war and people being killed because they have no connection with the reality of what they are seeing. That is an extreme case where they truly believe that people don’t die like that anymore. But again it asks the question, Are we losing our connection with reality as well?
It forces us to ask, What is freedom? And how far are you willing to go and how much are you willing to sacrifice to gain your freedom.We live in a world where we are constantly monitored and must attempt to avoid being controlled by our bosses at work, maybe parents, teachers and most of all the pressure of peer conformity. Most of us feel like in order to make it we have to not stick out. Don’t draw negative attention by being someone or doing something that you aren’t supposed to. Be what society tells you that you need to be. And the thought of rebelling against these preconceived ideals is very intriguing to most people. Whether it is rebelling against a simple curfew or a totalitarian government the feeling of rebelling sparks something inside of all of us that says “No! I will not conform to your idea of life.”
In most dystopian YA novels there is a rebellion of some kind. Whether it is the rebellion in The Hunger Games sparked by Katniss Everdeen or the Rising in Matched that has been fighting for years. In the end generally there is a happy ending. We have witnessed the struggle to overcome which we can all relate to hardships that everyone faces. We read these stories and can tell ourselves, ok if Katniss or Tris, or Cassia or Ky can go through THAT then I can do this no problem.
What do you think? Why have dystopian stories captivated the attention of readers young and old?